ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – St. Louis mayor Lyda Krewson says relief is on the way for some sweltering prison inmates.
Five large industrial air conditioners have been ordered, with the first set to arrive at the medium-security workhouse on Hall St. and become operational sometime on Monday.
“And then the other four will be coming on each day so that we can pump temporary air conditioning into the facility,” Krewson told KMOX News.
In the meantime officials are rotating workhouse inmates through air conditioned “pods” within the 51-year-old prison, meaning that approximately 230 of the 700+ residents are able to receive temporary relief at any one time.
Krewson was asked since the worst of the extreme heat has already struck, how much impact will the yet-to-arrive units really have?
“I think they’ll do a lot of good,” she replied. “Pumping any air conditioning in there will, I think, be a real plus. They expect to be able to lower the temperature substantially.”
Krewson said this marks “progress” for the workhouse, which has not had facility-wide air conditioning since it opened in 1966.
City voters rejected a tax increase in 2015 which would have funded permanent air conditioning at the jail.
Now the mayor says they’ll have to figure out how to pay for the rented AC units.
“It’s about $40,000 a month,” according to Krewson. “We’ll have to find the money by cutting somewhere else because this certainly was not in the budget.”
As for the protests that have popped up the past couple of nights outside the workhouse, including occasional clashes with police, Mayor Krewson said those only add to the stress levels of those being held inside.
“It makes for a pretty volatile situation inside the jail to have a lot of yelling and protesting and noise,” she said. “It makes for a very excitable situation inside the jail.”
A civil rights groups called the Arch City Defenders has joined others in condemning the situation inside the prison as “inhumane” and calling for it to be shut down.
Others have raised money to get a handful of prisoners out on bail to avoid the sweltering conditions.